Bionic Commando (NES)

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North American box art.

Bionic Commando, known in Japan as ヒットラーの復活 TOP SECRET, Hittora no Fukkatsu Toppu Shikuretto, "Hitler's Resurrection: Top Secret", is an action platform game by Capcom, released on the NES in 1988. This is the second game in the series, and while it's based on the arcade game, it was remade to better-fit home console play. In the Japanese version of the game, neo-Nazis have discovered lost plans for a giant war machine, but only Hitler knows how to build it, so they're trying to resurrect him. Allied forces sent Super Joe to infiltrate them, but he was captured, so you play Captain Rad who must rescue him, and stop the neo-Nazis. The American version was highly censored and all references to Nazism were removed, but Hitler is still quite recognizable.

My brother got this game, some time in the late 1980s. I remember being very frustrated with the swing mechanic, and dying and missing swings all the time. It took me a long time to get good enough to actually play the game competently. Both my brother and I had a hard time trying to get past Area 6, but he was able to do it one day, and beat the game. Then, he played through it again to show me the ending, which is fantastic! I was able to beat it myself much later, and it has since become a favorite of mine.

Status

I own this game and have beat it many times. I've also beaten the Japanese release and the European release. At my peak, I could beat the game without needing to continue.

Review

  • Overall: 8/10
  • Best Version: NES

Good

  • From start to end, the game has a really cool story line with some interesting twists.
  • While the bionic arm mechanic has a steep learning curve, once your become good at it, you'll not only love it, but wish for it in other games as well.
  • The game has a lot of variety. Each area has new graphics, enemy soldiers, bosses, hazards, and interesting characters to see.
  • The graphics are quite impressive. Each area has its own palette which gives it mood, the intro and ending have wonderful large graphics, and there are a lot of large enemy sprites.
  • The music for this game is phenomenal.
  • The difficulty level for the game is pretty good. Although the learning curve is steep and requires you to master the swing mechanic, and there are a few difficult spots, you never feel like the game is cheating you.
  • The need to determine the proper communicators for each area is a nice side-puzzle.
  • The ability to travel semi-freely over the main map takes away from some of the linearity of the game.
  • The Commando-esque Meet With Enemy sequences are fun and nostalgic.

Bad

  • The game is ripe with typos and translation errors making certain things hard to understand.
  • Despite loving the swinging mechanic, it takes a lot of time to get used to it. The game could have did a better job at easing you into the more complicated sections.
  • The American release was short-changed, not just because it censors out the Nazi plot, but because it's missing several other additions (rock barriers, land mines, shooting star, etc.). The Japanese version also fills out the maps better with more enemies and power-ups and has better dialogue and the interrogation scene.
  • The game focuses too much on the swinging mechanic and doesn't give enough play to more traditional run-and-gun mechanics. Although there are a lot of enemies, most of the enemies are very easy to deal with or don't occur enough. This was fixed in the Japanese release.
  • Large sections of several maps can be avoided (area 1 inside, area 3 right mountainside, area 2 bottom near the end, area 5 right side, area 8 entirely, etc.). They probably should have required the player to traverse more of it.
  • Both the wide cannon and machine gun are horrible weapons, though, with a little tweaking could have been made good if they acted more like they do in the meet with enemy sections.
  • Most of the secondary items aren't very useful to begin with, but are made even less useful because you receive the vastly superior medicine so early in the game.
  • There is no save-game or password system. Although, this is alleviated by the ability to farm extra hit points and continues.
  • Taking into account where you usually get it, and how brief it lasts, the POW item is nearly useless.

Ugly

  • Nothing. This game is art!

Box Art

Gallery

Links